GALLANT

The deafening silence cut through the stifling air like a knife. Two weary travellers plodded on the white strip of hard ground. The blistering sun overhead burned their bodies, scorching every inch and painting their light brown skin red. Their legs ached from the seemingly never-ending journey, and their throats were as dry as sandpaper.

The glare from the sun limited their vision and the oppressive heat caused the two travellers to feel suffocated. The makeshift hats they had made failed to serve their purpose. Beads of sweat glided down their brow leaving a salty trail behind, as their steady, nearly musical breaths came and went in a regular pattern.

It was a tiring but necessary journey. They were messengers, delivering an important letter for Her Royal Majesty, Empress of the Black Mountains. It was vital that they reached their destination in time. The future of their kingdom rested on their shoulders. No one but the Empress and they knew of the chaos and destruction that would befall their nation, should the letter's delivery be unsuccessful, or worse—fall into the wrong hands.

In spite of the unbearable climate, the two soldiers pushed themselves. Further and further from the beginning. Closer and closer to the end. Focused on their duty, the two of them failed to notice of the looming shadow biting at their heels.

As they moved onto uneven ground, the atmosphere shifted slightly and a cool, shiver of a breeze brought sweet relief. It was now a challenge for the intrepid warriors to lift each leg. Nevertheless, the two of them persevered as the clock continued its stealthy glide.

Uneasiness washed over the first traveller. He stopped abruptly and looked around. Reassuring himself no one was following, he brushed off the feeling and resumed his trek.

Their footsteps formed a strange rhythm as the unconsciously synchronized their pace. Left, right, left, right. For a long time, neither fell out of the almost hypnotic beat.

But wait, an alteration to the original score popped up like an ugly weed.

Then, instinctively, the second messenger broke out of line and came to a halt. His ears pricked up, and for a moment he seemed as if he could pinpoint where the queer sound had come from.

Nothing.

Looking behind, the first soldier called out to his friend to hurry. Not wanting to be left behind, the latter complied, scurrying to close the gap between them.

Wham! A gigantic pink thumb came crashing down on the first traveller with such a force. The second traveller froze in utter horror as the now bloodied carcass of his friend was wiped awkwardly across the terrain. Mangled beyond recognition, the first traveller was twisted into a grotesque shape; limbs arranged in awkward poses.

The second traveller lost it. He let loose a scream. And ran.

The sound of ultimate suffering tore through the air.

It ended.

The boy scrapped the annoying brown ants off his table and tossed them carelessly into the waste-paper basket behind him.

He failed to see that he had caused their deaths.

He failed to see the shredded scroll and the magnitude of his casual actions.

He failed to see lumpy remains of the Empress' bright red royal seal smeared on the bodies of the two valiant knights.

THE END